How do you know if your duck is cold (and other winter questions)?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by AKCub, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. AKCub

    AKCub Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 1, 2011
    Anchorage, Alaska
    So the gang seems to be doing fine with the onset of winter. I am a little paranoid about freezing the buggers so am watching closely for any hints of discomfort etc.

    They are cooped up with no supplemental heat. I am running lights anywhere between 14 hours a day to 24 hours a day if I forget they are on. Free choice for food outside the coop (i'm not putting food in coop) and water is always available in a heated bowl outside the coop by the feeder.

    Out temps are ranging from single digits to mid 20's so far (degrees F). There is about a foot of snow in the yard.

    The three muscovy's seem unfazed by everything except the snow depth. All of their wings are clipped so to move when the snow is more than a few inches deep they sort of hop and plop. If I force them to move in the snow when its deep they will move otherwise they won't move the 20 feet back to the coop. Not sure if I need to just let them sit until they decide they are hungry or cold and move the appropriate direction (coop or food/water). I don't want to realize I am dealing with somewhat less "sophisticated" critters by finding them frozen... or starving.

    The Khaki has a shiver once in a while but I can't remember if he did in the summer or not. He has been outside all of his life with no heat and more or less free ranging.

    All of them have transitioned to either a one foot stance or just plopped down in the snow when not eating or drinking.

    I guess I am looking for answers to the following:

    How do you know when they are actually cold?
    Will they move to/from the coop on their own eventually?
    How much snow is too much for them to barge through? It seems they are content to sit and let the snow collect on them by the food/water rather than hop and plop 20 feet to the dry coop...
    Should I change their diet at all in the colder temps? If anything they seem to be eating a bit less since the grass got covered. Their water intake is the same as ever.

    Thanks,


    Scott
     
  2. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

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    Jan 11, 2010
    Australia
    Ducks do have there own built in thermo control devices- with feathers to insulate them and a blood supply system evolved to keep warmer in freezing temperatures. The feathers actually trap warm air against the body

    While the wild species may migrate to warmer places- domestics ducks being bigger and heavier cope fairly well as long as they are given somewhere to get out of the snow and have some wind protection.

    If they are not laying- that can account for a mall drop in food intake- but with less to forage it their food intake should gradually increase. making sure they have a full ballanced diet in the winter will help them stay in good condition. Adding some multivitamins during the winter months can also help.
     
  3. linen53

    linen53 Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 26, 2011
    Fremont County, CO
    I'm learning just like you are since I became a duck owner last May. I'm 100% Muscovy duck owner. Now I have 22. 6 drakes and 16 girls. I live in Colorado and we have had 3 snow storms so far. The first time my ducks saw the snow when I let them out of the duck house they hesitated a whole 2 minutes before barging out of the duck yard to the outside where they free-range. I tried, like you to encourage them to go inside but they would have none of it. They stayed outside all day but were happy to go in at dusk to their clean, dry duck house.
     
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Oct 3, 2009
    Western N.C.
    Quote:I have Muscovies also and live in the mountains of N.C. it can get very cold and icey and snowy, My ducks will find places to crawl under when the weather is really nasty, but they never go into their house once I let them out in the morning. The only thing that worries me is their feet walking on snow and ice. but my oldest drake is 8years now and still going strong so I guess they do pretty good in the winter.
     
  5. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2011
    Maine
    My Anconas are funny.
    I let them decide if they want to free range during the day.
    They didn't mind the snow, and don't seem to mind blowing winds, but they also don't roam too far from their house and spend a lot of time during the day going back and forth from the cherry tree to their house.

    I built their "house" area & run attached, with their house only having 3 sides, it stays very dry, but since winter has decided to rear its ugly head I use hay bales as a wind barrier between the yard portion of their house and the lean-to area. They LOVE it. They run in & out of their newly constructed "room" & are a lot less chatty since the extra wall went up.

    I've always been lucky, my Anconas just love their enclosure. I was prepared for having to wrestle ducks into their house at night, but they usually beat the chickens inside. It is so different from all the reading I have done about how hard it is to get them into their house that I posted a while ago wondering if there was something wrong with them. They don't "free range" like I expected them to.
    I still joke that they like a chaperone if they leave their little yard, and a lifeguard at the big pool. Our whole yard is fenced in (about 3 acres) and there is ample overhead cover. I guess the ducks just like my company.

    (I moved the big, deep duck pool into the larger yard so that they would range a little farther. They will only go there if I am out there. Everyday around 3 p.m. the ducks summon me from their garden bridge & let me know my shift as lifeguard at the pool is starting.)
     
  6. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Oct 3, 2009
    Western N.C.
    m.kitchengirl :

    My Anconas are funny.
    I let them decide if they want to free range during the day.
    They didn't mind the snow, and don't seem to mind blowing winds, but they also don't roam too far from their house and spend a lot of time during the day going back and forth from the cherry tree to their house.

    I built their "house" area & run attached, with their house only having 3 sides, it stays very dry, but since winter has decided to rear its ugly head I use hay bales as a wind barrier between the yard portion of their house and the lean-to area. They LOVE it. They run in & out of their newly constructed "room" & are a lot less chatty since the extra wall went up.

    I've always been lucky, my Anconas just love their enclosure. I was prepared for having to wrestle ducks into their house at night, but they usually beat the chickens inside. It is so different from all the reading I have done about how hard it is to get them into their house that I posted a while ago wondering if there was something wrong with them. They don't "free range" like I expected them to.
    I still joke that they like a chaperone if they leave their little yard, and a lifeguard at the big pool. Our whole yard is fenced in (about 3 acres) and there is ample overhead cover. I guess the ducks just like my company.

    (I moved the big, deep duck pool into the larger yard so that they would range a little farther. They will only go there if I am out there. Everyday around 3 p.m. the ducks summon me from their garden bridge & let me know my shift as lifeguard at the pool is starting.)

    [​IMG] thats so cute.​
     
  7. GrannyCarol

    GrannyCarol Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 7, 2011
    Washington
    I don't have Muscovies, so don't know how they do. I have lots of other ducks and they aren't too lively in the snow. I would recommend digging them a path to their food and water, or moving it closer to the coop. They will need more food in the cold weather and are obviously finding it hard to get around in the snow. I think Muscovies are more of a tropical duck than the Mallard derivatives, but I'm not sure. All ducks need a place where they can get out of the wind. Mine do hang out pretty close in when there's snow and like to be under cover (snow free). They handle cold just fine, but I give them lots of straw spread out for them to snuggle into and to make it less slippery when I walk (and when they walk, they can hurt themselves slipping on ice and their big feet make ice as they go). They will lay down in the straw and pull their feet and head into their down and be fine. Definitely they need heated water (or for someone to keep their water open) most of the time. It gets well below zero (F) here in the winter and windy... sometimes when its windy and nasty I lock them in their house (double walled and draft free) and move their food and water in too. It's messy, but they are comfortable. That's only for a day or two at a time. My duck house has a covered porch where their food is and a ten foot walk to the heated water, seems to work fine. If I were you, I'd try to bring the food and water near to their sleeping quarters for the really nasty weather and also keep a path cleared for them to get to it. I know its a bit more work, but they count on us for their wellbeing and they need to eat and to drink. Otherwise, with food, water and shelter from wind and driving rain or snow, they should be fine.
     

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